Sunday, April 17, 2011

Does Your Community Do a "Walk-Around"?

Every Spring, my HOA board performs its annual "walk around" to assess all of the properties in the community. Typically, every member of the board agrees to participate and they take the better part of a Saturday to walk or ride on a golf cart throughout the neighborhood. When I served my term on the board, I was part of this crew with clipboard in hand and sunscreen in place.

What were we supposed to be looking for?
-Roofs that needed cleaning
-Mailboxes that needed replacing
-Landscaping that needed pruning or trimming
-Driveways that needed pressure cleaning
-Houses that needed painting
-Fences that needed replacing
-The occassional contractor's sign or holiday decoration that had been left up well beyond its natural expiration date.

I'd like to think that there was no favoritism played during these reviews but human nature being what it is, I'm not so sure. When you are talking about aesthetics, beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. Some of the things that caught my fellow board members' eyes surprised me and some of the things they overlooked did as well.

Most folks will tell you that they moved in to a mandatory association to ensure a certain level of community appearance and services. A few years back, my neighbor several houses down painted his house a color that can only be described as "Pepto Bismol Pink". It certainly wasn't my taste but our documents didn't prohibit the color since the board was empowered with a lot of discretion in terms of approval and disapproval for exterior changes. Since then, the HOA Act has changed to require that kind of subjectivity to be replaced with actual published rules and policies.

It's not easy to be asked to go around and judge the appearance of your neighbors' homes. Still, the board is tasked with upholding the community's governing documents so how better to do it than to roll up your sleeves and walk around?

As for the bright pink house, it grew on me and I do appreciate the diversity in house style in my neighborhood. Still, I have to ask myself had the paint been neon green whether I would have felt differently?

This work by Donna DiMaggio Berger, Esq. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Generic License.


  1. My fellow Board members and I used to do this drivethrough every 2 months until it got too hard to get us all together.

  2. In my HOA several of us Boardmembers would do a drivethrough every 2 months until it got too hard to get us together. Now the management company does it

  3. Human nature ALWAYS takes a part. For Board Members facing these issues, I'd suggest having the Management Company handle these walk-thru's. For instance, we do ours weekly for all of our communities. We're trained to do so and don't live at the property so it's much easier to those "human" moments.

  4. I agree that managers create a nice "buffer" in this regard so it's not one neighbor judging another but a professional doing so. In my community, we do not have professional management so that is why the board members must undertake this task.